Anxious behavior induces elevated hippocampal Cb2 receptor gene expression

James M. Robertson, Justin K. Achua, Justin P. Smith, Melissa A. Prince, Clarissa D. Staton, Patrick J. Ronan, Tangi R. Summers, Cliff H. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Anxiety is differentially expressed across a continuum of stressful/fearful intensity, influenced by endocannabinoid systems and receptors. The hippocampus plays important roles in the regulation of affective behavior, emotion, and anxiety, as well as memory. Location of Cb1/Cb2 receptor action could be important in determining emotional valence, because while the dorsal hippocampus is involved in spatial memory and cognition, the ventral hippocampus has projections to the PFC, BNST, amygdala, and HPA axis, and is important for emotional responses to stress. During repeated social defeat in a Stress-Alternatives Model arena (SAM; an oval open field with escape portals only large enough for smaller mice), smaller C57BL6/N mice are subject to fear conditioning (tone = CS), and attacked by novel larger aggressive CD1 mice (US) over four daily (5 min) trials. Each SAM trial presents an opportunity for escape or submission, with stable behavioral responses established by the second day of interaction. Additional groups had access to a running wheel. Social aggression plus fear conditioning stimulates enhanced Cb2 receptor gene expression in the dorsal CA1, dorsal and ventral dentate gyrus subregions in animals displaying a submissive behavioral phenotype. Escape behavior is associated with reduced Cb2 expression in the dorsal CA1 region, with freezing and escape latency correlated with mRNA levels. Escaping and submitting animals with access to running wheels had increased Cb2 mRNA in dorsal DG/CA1. These results suggest that the Cb2 receptor system is rapidly induced during anxiogenic social interactions plus fear conditioning or exercise; with responses potentially adaptive for coping mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jun 3 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cb
  • anxiety
  • endocannabinoid
  • exercise
  • hippocampus
  • induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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